Archive for May 1st, 2012

Imagine that your laptop display weighs 800 pounds. But you can still open it and close it and re-open it as you like, gently pushing it to just the right angle. And when you let go, it stays exactly where you put it. That should give you a pretty good idea of what Facebook has done in designing an entirely new breed of hardware device for storing all the photos, videos, and other digital stuff uploaded by its more than 845 million users.




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Stephen Fry recently tweeted this old Fry and Laurie sketch. Basically, this is what Google looked like in the world of 1980s British sketch comedy.




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Google’s daily brainteaser helps hone your search skills.




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My engagement with the concept of gamification has followed the pattern below. I think this has been true for many people.

  1. The badges on Foursquare were fun and I thought the idea of using gaming concepts to make non-game service more engaging had legs
  2. I started to get bored with earning meaningless badges and points all over the place
  3. I started to see the word ‘gamification’ in business plans as a sure-fire, but unexplained, driver of success (for a time ‘viral marketing’ was used with a similar lack of understanding and lack of impact)
  4. I lost interest in the whole concept

Then this morning, having not heard or thought much about the concept of gamification for six months, I saw an article on Vator.tv titled Gamification is not, alone, a sustainable solution which I anticipated would re-enforce my opinion. Instead I got a reminder that the idea behind gamification is still a good one, after all making services more fun improves the user experience, and it is the implementations and over-use in business plans that have been the problem.

The Vator post explains the difference between a good implementation of gamification and a bad one – read the whole thing, but in summary the challenge needs to be at meaningful, but not too difficult, the game has to deliver value to the core service (not just meaningless rewards), and the game should sustain interest over a period of time.

And good gamification really works. Consider this Sephora case study (again from Vator):

Sephora customers that are a part of the gamification process spend 10x as much as the average customer. Consumers that engage in social cues from Sephora are so driven by rewards, customer service and quality that they buy more products and discuss their experiences with other possible customers online.

Then straight after reading the Vator post I saw one on Venturebeatwhich describes how PlaySay is making a game of language learning. They are asking people to complete real world challenges to practice their language skills – to me that sounds much more fun than talking to a computer!

It seems gamification has now been through the whole hype cycle and matured to the point where it is a useful concept that can be widely used to good effect.



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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are headed to China this week for annual meetings, and several contentious issues including China’s currency manipulation and human rights record are likely to be discussed at the high-level talks. Niall Ferguson, author of Civilization: The West and the Rest, says there is a “storm [...]

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Marc Andreessen, Founder and General Partner of Andreessen Horowitz, sits down with Wired Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson to share his insights on bubbles, valuations and smartphones.




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If you are looking for signs of another tech bubble, they are easy to find. Instagram, a wildy popular, albeit zero-revenue company, is bought by Facebook for $1 billion. Groupon, an updated coupon business goes public at the peak of its hype cycle. Venture capital money is sloshing around for seemingly every app company that gets dreamed up, and valuations for those newly-funded startups are soaring. ‘I am investing because I don?t think we are in a bubble,’ says Marc Andreessen, the man who invented the Web browser and Silicon Valley?s highest profile venture capitalist of the moment with Andreessen Horowitz.




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President Obama’s campaign launched a new television ad this week attacking presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s record on outsourcing and jobs. The ad will air in Iowa, Ohio and Virginia — three battleground states that will help determine the election. Recent polls have the president and the former Massachusetts governor in a dead heat among [...]

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In the 1990s, when both men were members of the Princeton University economics department, Paul Krugman and Ben Bernanke would frequently discuss monetary policy in Fisher Hall. Now, the two economists debate issues surrounding growth, inflation, and the mission of the Federal Reserve, in much larger rooms. In his New York Times columns, media appearances, [...]

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Follow The Daily Ticker on Facebook! Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher has a message for Congress: “They have to do their part; we’ve done ours.” Last week’s disappointing data reports (first-quarter GDP, April durable goods and weekly jobless claims) as well as Monday’s weaker-than-expected Chicago PMI and Dallas Fed survey reinforced concerns about the U.S. [...]

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